Whatchoo gonna do with your hair?

Whatchoo gonna do with your hair?


True story…       

If y’all in the grip of things like we are here, then hot and humid is just an understatement and so, this past weekend, I sweated my hair out in the worst way working out in the yard doing some major landscaping.       

So by Sunday afternoon, after finishing up my landscaping project, I took my hair down out of my faux puff so I could brush my scalp really good before I washed my hair. Then using the same parts from my previous hair style, I put my hair up in some big fat plaits.       

Whoopie Goldberg as Celie in the Color Purple


 Now if y’all been following my journey for awhile, you know I don’t have a problem going out in public with dookie twists or big fat, Celie/Color Purple plaits one bit. And even when it is looking a little crazy, (like when I just need to contain my hair quickly so I can run an errand) I’m not even self conscious about it cause it’s not on my mind. At least not until I notice someone looking at me like I’m crazy. Then I’m like, “Ah…my hair, too funny…”

Thing is, I just ain’t shamed of my hair…at all. So in consistent fashion, I’m outside wearing my hair in large plaits while talking with my sis who has just pulled up and is waiting while my niece is inside helping my mom get herself together so they can go to her basketball game.       

Now I’m standing curb side when my mom and niece come out of the house and these two people, a man and a woman, come walking past. The man, who looks like he just stepped out of a church wearing his Sunday-go-to-meeting best black suite is accompanied by…hmmm…well… how do I put this? A hoochie mama looking woman. She’s got on a v-cut, light weight, T-shirt kinda dress and no bra on. It reminded me of that little child’s ditty that kids pick up on the street somewhere when they’re younger, which they get a really big kick out of…at least I remember my niece did when she was about seven or eight years old…      

Do your boobs hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot…can you tie them in a bow? Can you throw them over your shoulder, like a continental soldier? Do your boobs hang low?      

Silly, I know. And now that I think about it,  I think I taught it to her myself. Hey, that’s what aunties are for…right? But anyway, they both smile as they walk past saying how much they like my landscaping As they get past me, the lady says something I can’t understand, so I say “huh?”       

She repeats herself but I still can’t quite make out what she’s saying as she continues walking up the street, so I yell “what?”       

Then she yells back down the street quite clearly and unabashedly, “Whatcho gonna do with your hair?”       

That’s when I just kinda screw up my face and take a second  look at her…including her hair. She seems to be natural and appears to be wearing an afro puff. Hmmm…well that’s interesting.       

Ceilie -- The Color Purple


I’m a little dumb founded and quite frankly, I’m caught off guard cause I really thought she was still talking about my landscaping. To prevent folks from cutting down the hostas, I took out a bunch of grass, put in a border and put down mulch. Let me tell you that involved a whole lot of work. And for my first attempt at doing something like that, I think it turned out pretty good. So for folks to be walking down the street and complimenting my effort has been great and much appreciated. Anyhoo, trying to wrap my brain quickly around what she’s just asked, I shake my head a little and just say, “Ummm…probably put it in an afro puff like yours.”       

Dang, where are those snappy retorts when I need them?       

At this point, she’s pretty far up the street and seems to smile before turning around to continue on her way.       

By now my mom has made it curb side and can’t believe that some stranger has had the gall to ask me a question like that.       

“I think that was down right rude,” I say.       

“Well I do too,” she says.       

My niece makes a remark that the guy looked like he had just come from church, and we’re all in agreement that Miss Thang sho nuff looked like being in church was no where near being on her agenda…at least not wearing that get up. Ok… now I know that’s rather judgemental cause you never know…but still…they were a very miss-matched looking pair to say the least.       

“You would have said something about her hair,” my sis says.       

“No I wouldn’t, “I say emphatically. “If I thought someone’s hair was jacked up, I would NOT tell them that.”       

“See, that’s what I’m saying…” says my niece. “That’s just wrong.”       

While the conversation continues, I wonder aloud, “Does my hair really look that…”       

“Yeah yo hair is really jacked up,” interjects my sister as she finishes my sentence.       

I’m like, “Dang, alrighty then.”       

With my mom securely in the car they leave, I go back into the house and head straight for a mirror. Ok, granted, it’s not “styled” but then again I wasn’t going for style. I take some pics, knowing that I’d most likely blog about this, and then get to work on my hair. Later, when my mom came back home, seeing my hair back in a faux puff, she jokingly asked if I showed that lady what I had done to my hair.       

We both laughed. And as much as I can easily laugh the incident off, it does seriously reinforce something I’ll continue to wonder about every time I encounter  it personally or read about someone’s experience on a hair board.       

What is it about nappy hair that gives people, strangers, family, friends, coworkers or acquaintances the right to question someone’s hair in a negative way to their face? In retrospect, “whatchoo gonna do with your hair?” is really NOT the question of the day, is it? The real question of the day is, “Why you baggin’ on my nappy hair?”      

Yeah? Well talk to the hand!

14 Responses to “Whatchoo gonna do with your hair?”
  1. S says:

    Well I have actually had that question asked to my daughter. This was from a coworker/church member. Thanks for the memories, I was transitioning and had nooo clue what to do with my hair.at that particular time the lowe r half was in bic braids and the upper part was faux puff. I was trying to find my way. But here we are 4 years later and I can silll recall that emotion. I.ve had sites slip their beauty shop card while service is going on
    Thought they were there for the word of God! Not trading notes on my gonzola bush lol.Sisters deliberately look me in the face look st my hair and then smile…I can just imagine what their thinking. But each day I hey get stronger wiser and toss that puff.braid.twists or whatever every which way and holds my hread up

  2. Wow, that was really rude. Your hair is none of her business.

  3. Nedra says:

    Hi, you sound like me. I can never think of a retort when people are so rude. To be honest, I thought of Celie when I saw the ‘do, but that’s not a bad thing. Nobody can say that Celie didn’t have any hair. I’ll be glad when my natural gets long enough to put it into those “big fat plaits.” Thank you again for sharing your story. It reinforces my ideas that it’s only natural to want to wear my natural hair.

    • nappyme says:

      Girl…OK? You got that right. Can’t nobody say Celie didn’t have hair on her head lol! I’ll take Celie braids anyday! LOL!

  4. Sweetld08 says:

    I hate you had to experience this incident, but unfortunately it is our reality. I’m questioned often about my choice of going natural simply because I don’t have ‘good hair’. My beautician asked me if I was sure I didn’t want a relaxer when I went to get the rest of my relaxer cut off years ago. I don’t understand the mindset of our own people at times. I get so many compliments from every race except my own. Other races give compliments, while our fellow AA questions our desire to ‘walk around looking like that’. Why is it harder for us to accept ourselves as God made us and not ridicule our fellow brothers and sisters? Why is wearing your natural hair seen as unprofessional by our community? I am a professional that works mostly with white men and it hasn’t stopped nor slowed down my career. They absolutely love it. Please don’t give her comments another thought, and continue to be confident. I consider my natural tresses to be my crown of glory, and I encourage you to do the same.

    • Evelynjane says:

      So funny you mention that. Every other race LOVES my natural hair, and don’t see the big deal with me wearing it natural. I have even gone so far as to try and educate people of other races on why going natural is such a big deal, but they just dont get it. Seems to me it’s our perception of ourselves that get in the way.

      • Anjay says:

        I’ve also found that people from other races give me compliments about my hair all of the time. They are always interested in how I do my own two strand twists, how long it takes, etc. Our own people are so quick to say “I like you better with straight hair” or “When are you going to get your hair done?” I wore a relaxer for almost 40 years. As I was getting to my late forties, my hair started getting thinner and thinner. The light bulb finally went off that I’m destroying my hair with these chemicals. Now that I am 50, I feel free. I’m still a work in progress as far as how to do different styles, but I’m on my way thanks to websites like this.

  5. Jaz says:

    I think if a white person with straight hair just woke up and had bed hair and went outside, I’m sure someone in their family would tell them the same thing. But who is this lady to tell you about your own hair? That is rude! Only family members can say things like that and get away with it. lol

  6. ms-gg says:

    People get on my nerves Napia Mia with their boldness! I wrote a blog entry about an experience I had where a girl basically tried to clown me in front of her friends back in May saying, “Imma do your hair like dat!,” and I was wearing some cute mini twists.

    The problem is people don’t like their “real” African selves. And us wearing our hair out in pride, bothers them because they try to hide this side of themselves. That lady that you encountered, she just doesn’t have any class. Natural hair doesn’t make you classy or anymore enlightened than the person wants to be.

    I’m glad that you can turn the other cheek and not let her opinion of you break your spirit. And I hope everything is alright with you 🙂

    • nappyme says:

      ms-gg I so agree with this. Most people don’t want to acknowledge their African-ness if you will. I had this black gay guy at a salon, who I think was the appointment setter, look at my puff one time and say “That do will sure take you back to the motherland.”

      I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment. Eh…whatever dude. I told him, “Him it sure will!”

  7. california girl says:

    your hair is beautiful! i used to love to wear my hair like that in public. now, alas, thanks to genetic something or other, my hair is thinning and i can’t pull that off anymore. but i still love my ‘fro.

  8. sundayzchild says:

    Funny that. She couldnt find fitting undergarments, but she managed to see your hair? Wow! Some folk!

  9. Ms-gg says:

    You know what, after I reread this, did he compliment your lawn first and show a whole lot more interest in it than she did? She probably was jealous that her man liked your lawn work and wanted to take you down a couple of notches. She was probably very insecure with herself, especially since she dresses so trashy….

    • Crown says:

      Ms-gg, that’s actually a great point.

      To be honest, my fear of going natural all the time is what other AA’s will think or say. Sad, I know! Atlanta is full of naturals, but just not enough for it to be the norm. I have some work to do on my confidence!

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